From Fluff to Faith with Ann McMan

In this episode of Les do Books, Tara talks to Ann McMan, and the conversation goes from fluff to faith and more besides.

Listen to this episode here

Ann McMan (Galileo, Beowulf for Cretins) doesn’t like blowing up the relationships of her characters, she prefers to blow up their lives, the political and social realities that surround them. It’s in that wreckage where she finds the meaning she’s looking for. While this week’s episode starts off talking about fluffy romances, it quickly goes to other places. 

Tara and Ann discuss the following books by Ann: 

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Beowulf for Cretins 





Transcript for Today’s Show

Please note this transcript has not been edited and is automatically generated meaning certain words will be incorrect.

hi I’m Tara and welcome to let’s do pucks I’m excited today because Anne McMahon is back she is the author of eleven lesbian fiction books all of which I love and you all know that so I won’t shut up about them I’ll look for some money the latest book is Galileo the second Evan read mystery all of her books are available everywhere from Bywater books most of them are available in audio welcome Anne hi thank you so I did a podcast earlier this year actually about fluffy romances I swear I’m going somewhere with this but I did a podcast earlier this year about fluffy romances is that a category fluffy brought a new sub-genre oh that’s a good point okay so fluffy romances if you think about it they are the romances that are angst free it’s almost like cotton candy in a book some people don’t love them because they all they want is angst personally I love them especially if I’m having a really bad week and one of the things that I noticed in a couple of the books is that they were coming with authors notes explicitly saying that they were giving the finger to all the that was happening in the world because writing happy books with very happy endings in the world that we’re in now especially with two women is a political act and I mean writing about women loving women has been a political act as as soon as it started anyway and I was thinking about how like there’s been this evolution of it and we go from like the well of loneliness which is about as depressing as you can get and you get to say the likes of an Bannen who for people who listen to the podcast will remember she was on earlier this year as well talking about what those books were doing for people and you can take that too curious whine – Karen call maker and then two other Marianne K Martin and then other romance authors so you get to these like coming-out stories and kind of war pass coming out stories and now it’s like there’s just happy stories and I thought how wonderful but then I thought on the flip side there are also people like you who are writing overtly about politics as well sometimes it’s a major theme and sometimes it’s not a major theme so I don’t have a lot of specific questions I was thinking this could be kind of an unstructured conversation but I wanted to start just by asking why do you write about politics in your books even the romances I think you know for me I think it’s because I believe for myself that as a writer I have a responsibility to do that and the the avenue that is available for me to tell my stories and have them available to readers is one that requires me to write within a certain genre but the you know the lesbian literature genre is the Avenue I’ve chosen and it’s the avenue that is open and available to me so that’s the vehicle I have and the stories I feel compelled to tell need to fit within that framework but I believe that I have a responsibility to to myself and to other women who I know are like me and who have had who have had and have parallel life experiences to talk about issues and themes that transcend romance and sex and and I think it’s it’s important to show that as complete people all of those things can coexist and that they don’t have to be mutually exclusive you know that I don’t have to write a story that does one thing or the other that I can try to tell what I believe to be an important story about real people deal with real issues that also includes some of the other happier elements then you know that’s why I do it that’s why I do it and I try to do it in a way that doesn’t beat readers up you know that doesn’t like like take an issue that’s uncomfortable and and grind their faces into it it’s not my goal or my desire ever to do that but it is my I believe my mission to write about real things and real people living real lives who also managed to find hopefully love and companionship along the way so the first book that I was thinking of when I when I was kind of mulling this topic over was Beowulf or cretins because it is also what I would classify as a fluffy romance there’s not there’s not a lot of angst between the two of them there are questions of you know whether they can make this work for various reasons I’m trying to avoid spoilers but you don’t have the dramatic we’re going to have a very terrible messy breakup only to have to get back together like it’s it’s quite lovely but at the same time there is that thread of the brother-sister relationship and you know I think we all see on our Facebook unless you all have wildly different face books than I do people saying that they had family relationships fall apart best friend relationships fall apart when people in their lives voted on the opposite side of the political spectrum from them and I was wondering if you could talk about a little bit about that and how that came about about in in Beowulf about Grace’s relationship with her brother Dean yeah I depicted Dean intentionally to be kind of the UM not just political but you know like the antithesis of grace in almost every way you know she’s an academic he’s a non-academic she has liberal ideologies he has conservative ideologies he voted for Trump she’s very upfront about saying that you know that he’s got Trump stickers all over his big macho Hemi powered pickup and then she is forced to come to terms with the fact that her best friend who is also the antithesis of her brother Dean is engaging in a very lively and energetic sexual relationship with this man with whom she has nothing in common you know and Grace has to find a way to come to terms with that but beyond that Grace has no illusions about the differences for she and her brother have but at the same time manages to connect with the things in him that transcend their differences you know and what I did that was personal was the care I have two brothers and the character of Dean is this synthesis of both of my brothers so I just I took qualities from each of them and smash them together into this one man you know my brothers and I are complete opposites politically and in terms of our attitudes toward you know socialist issues and even when it comes to religion but yet we’ve managed to find our way to respect and value the things we have in common that don’t divide us so I wanted to try to see if it was possible to thread that needle you know between Grace and her brother have either of your brothers read any of your books um one of my brother’s reads all of my books and my other brother has never read any of them and we don’t have we don’t really have energetic discussions about the books like I know that my oldest brother has read them all and it is you know the fact that my other brother actually the brother I’m probably closer to not just in age but in in terms of you know friendship and kinship the fact that he has never read any of them is painful for me mm-hmm is is that because he’s just not interested in lesbian books or is he not a big reader or I know he is a big reader but he focuses primarily on nonfiction on biographies on his Bible you know I think for him there I I mean I’m reluctant to put words into his mouth but but I do think it’s possible that he subscribes to the hate the center I mean hate the sin love the sinner hate the sin yeah sort of ideology so I I would suspect he probably has an idea of what he thinks my books are about and of course they’re not and I think he’d be very surprised to read them and discover that they’re not sex throwdowns they’re really not they’re really not in fact if I could share with you a funny what I think is a really funny anecdote when I when I was when I got the lambda award for bear what for credence and you know I was stunned and went up there and trying to cobble together you know something coherent to say the one thing it occurred to me to say unfortunately my filters were actually working for once I was tempted to say thank you to the judges who had to read 43,000 sex scenes in this category none of them in this book you know one thing I would like to ask you a question when you said yes you sort of categorized bailiff or cretins as kind of being in the fluffy romance category and I find that really intriguing because I really didn’t set out to do that I mean I realized that I didn’t blow up the relationship between Grace and Abbey but I tend not to blow up relationships anyway you know in my books like I was absolutely adamant that in the Jericho series I would never do that with Maddie and Sid you know to like explode their relationship just so I can bring back together because I know that’s one of the tropes but you know in bail was what I was really trying to deal with and and maybe it didn’t come through and that could be a flaw of the book were the issues that grace struggles with that are faith-based you know the whole concept of freewill versus determinism versus the belief that there is a personal God who is engaged in ordering events in our lives that was really the theme of the book well that’s still there all I’m talking about is when I talk about fluffy romances and frankly I would actually say Jericho is one as well because it’s very much a it’s them coming together it’s not like we’re coming together we’re veering off course we’re back together again like it’s also something that I made up like it’s not based on I wouldn’t say it’s based on any real like industry term or whatever but it’s it’s almost the idea that like you as the reader don’t have to go through anything grueling to enjoy the romance and the best example I can think of that I would bet $1,000 you’ve read so I’m gonna use it even though it’s I also wouldn’t necessarily call the romance but if you look at letters never sent by Sandra Moran there’s a gorgeous there is a gorgeous love story in it and it ripped my guts out when I read it that book had a lot of banks Beowulf doesn’t have that and Jericho doesn’t have that but I do think as you say Beowulf has more serious themes and I think it would be great if you could talk a little bit more about that like grappling with faith especially grappling with faith in this world that we’re in right now where it feels like we’ve made so much progress and we’re losing so much progress all at the same time which I think for a lot of you know queer readers is going to resin with I mean all of us right and I think it’s true like if you if I at least look back over what I would identify as commonalities and in all of my books even the things that are overtly humorous like the Dizz and Clarissa stories my protagonists all have all have one one sort of big defining thing in common they’re all pilgrims who are wandering through life trying to figure out if there is real meaning and most of their internal struggles deal with issues of faith in one way or another well they drag you know I think of them as people who are going through life dragging their questions about God you know and that’s what I write about and that’s what I ruminate about and I’ve had people ask me before you know are you Catholic where you raised Roman Catholic because I so many of my characters are Roman Catholic but I you know I choose to use that because to me it’s it’s kind of a perfect made-to-order microcosm of issues of faith you know it’s got its got all the elements it’s it’s dark it’s murky it has history you know it has ideas of a kind of distant brooding God who is or isn’t personal who can only be accessed through a whole series of mediators it’s kind of like God it it’s kind of like you know faith at one remove you know so so even in Beowulf those are the struggles that grace deals with her moral compass is the voice of the nun Mary Larry who’s constantly the voice in the back of her head and all of Mary Larry’s little platitudes and after isms there are the things that are kind of like Grace’s guiding principles and then two-thirds of the way through the book when we learned the truth about Mary Larry Grace’s entire cosmology gets exploded and she what is what is she going to do now that everything she was taught to believe to be true was a lie you know wasn’t true and it wasn’t true for the person who was drilling that stuff into her head something that I find interesting about that is that I think it is analogous to what happens to a lot of people who walk away from faith and I’m one of them I walked away from evangelical faith probably six years ago or so and we’re recording this in August for people who are listening and I think that’s important for you to know because you are listening to this in November but in this past week I was reading an article about Joshua Harris do you know who he is no he was one of the leaders of the purity culture movement in the 1990s which one day over drinks I can tell you all the ways that that damaged me so so badly but I’m sure you can also just imagine and he was the guy who wrote a book called I kiss dating goodbye and then he did another one after that I forget what is I forget what it’s called but it’s basically about the idea of courting and you should you shouldn’t even kiss before you get married and about how it was a little painful to him like I and I haven’t read this since oh god it’s almost 20 years but I remember reading about how it was painful for him to know that his wife had had sex before they were married but he still loves her anyway and all this like really awful well he has renounced all of that he has apologized for the damage that he has done he and his wife have amicably split and recently he was part of a Pride Parade and it was one of those like like it just shook me right to the core because it was this person who was so foundational like so foundational to so many of up parts of my brain saying I did a bad thing I was wrong now I don’t think Mary Larry said that she did a bad thing necessarily but it’s it’s really interesting to see that like yeah I like I can definitely identify with grace and how she goes through that and like you have that way of thinking and you have these things that you carry with you and you have these I I refer to it sometimes is almost programming because you may not even necessarily agree with it when you stop to think about it but it is those like those thoughts that come forward and and for people who were raised churched so much of it comes from there well you know and the other thing that’s true because I was raised in a very fundamentally religious tradition believe it or not and you know things like like we went to church three times a week you know there used to be an old saying that Sunday morning shows how much you love the church Sunday night shows how much you love the pastor and Wednesday night shows how much you love the Lord and that was kind of the tradition I grew up in and religious themes are pervasive in my books because to me those are the archetypal stories and traditions we as a culture share whether we consciously subscribe to them or not you know those are the myths and the stories and the things that we know whether we’re aware of it or not expressions that are common in our language that derive from biblical stories and things that we understand about love and morality a lot of those things derive directly from that that whole tradition you know so those things are pervasive for me and a lot of what I what I do when I write is I try to work through my own confusion and my own issues with how in the world do i reconcile all of that with what i now under stand not just about the world but about myself in the world how much of that was back cast Oh a hundred percent gosh there are what thirteen essays first-person essays in back cast and ten of them derive directly from my own life so yeah there’s a tremendous amount of it one thing I would say about that just I don’t know if I’ve ever like shared this with you I know I’m were kind of all over the place but um you know what I was writing that book my goal was to write a book that dealt with transitions in women’s lives and how different women are either empowered or unempowered by experiences and events they’ve had and lived through and I found what I thought was this very humorous vehicle to tell that story but the real narrative is carried through those essays that each of the women write and I presented them those essays without attribution intentionally because I wanted to point to the fact that none of us know what the people around us are carrying with them you know what their personal experiences are that are very often not reflected by what we show publicly you know so I loved I mean you know I loved the ability to kind of have that tension and then you know what the very when I first wrote the book I wasn’t even sure if I ever would reveal which person wrote which essay and then I decided that I pretty much had to but you know as I said the majority of those derived from different life experiences of my own I mean you know that because I think I’ve told you several times and not always coherently but I think that is the thing that I love the most about it the idea of like secrets isn’t even necessarily the right way to put it but it is that we all have our own story and we we choose when and how to reveal it and the extent to which we want to reveal it and like I know for myself I have parts of my own personal story that I’m sure people are shocked sometimes that I do share because it’s so personal but I also think there’s something to the idea of when you tell your own story nobody can use it against you and I just think with back-cast it was really beautiful seeing that play out in the instances when they were able to open up to each other or not because sometimes it either doesn’t feel relevant or it’s too much or but it works so well and I liked how even though sometimes there were things that were tremendously painful in essays because there were many essays that carried a lot of pain to them and actually you did this with goldenrod as well in a different way of course because it’s a different narrative structure very very difficult very heavy material at times and it was like almost when I felt like I need to put this down and walk away for a little while I would start to laugh yeah yeah right and I do you know I know that when I was at the golden crown literary Society conference in July in Pittsburgh I sat in on the book club session they had where the group had read Beth Prescott’s amazing book 2° which is a phenomenal book about climate change and many other things but just trying to sit there quietly and pay attention to what you know the discussion that people were having about that book a woman in the group talked about how she didn’t often gravitate toward books that had for lack of a better term more difficult or more serious content you know that her first choice would be to pick up a romance and read that so that was unusual for her to take on something magnitude of two degrees and you know to kind of make her point she says so you know if I wanna if I’m gonna read a book I’ll if I want to read romance I’ll pick up a book by and Melissa praises George beers if I want to read something funny I’ll pick up a book by Anne McMahon you know but and went on like that and I mean in it and I know that I know that that that there was absolutely no desire on her part to say something that would be you know wounding or you know got a professionally of not offensive that’s too strong a word but hard for me to hear but I don’t think of myself as a person who writes humorous books although I know many people do but I do understand that humor is a convention and a device I use in in precisely the way you just identified you know how how how a boxer in the ring will will throw sort of fake punches fake punches fake punches that don’t land and then one hits you and then they dance around a little while and they parry and they throw punches that don’t land and then they hit you again and I know that that is precisely the kind of method and structure I employ in many of my books where I’ll set up these ridiculous situations that that are interwoven with really difficult content and I do that as a way to not overwhelm the reader and also give them a little breathing space where’s hope so you know what I and I had an insight about that too it’s really it’s really strange for me to be the age I am now I just turned 64 and have to confront that you can still learn stuff about yourself I mean I guess that never ends but you know I grew up in a I was the youngest of four children and I grew up in northwestern Pennsylvania in a small town in a home that not only was care characterized by a lot of adherence to sort of fundamental religious practices but at the same time where there was domestic violence my father was an alcoholic my sister and I were both incest I’ll say victims because we were children at the time and I believe that probably my brothers were experiencing their versions of the same thing and I learned and I now know that this is a thing that happens in in alcoholic families that very often the youngest children assumed the role of what’s called a mascot you become the mascot of the family you become the person who learns how to defuse a dramatic situation by being funny you know you learn how to make a joke or do some kind of stunt or trick that distracts people from whatever horrible thing they’re about to engage in and I and I got really good at that and I’ve continued to sort of cultivate that and now I use it in the way I write from the hard stuff my job as a writer is to try to entice people to come along with me on the journey and trust that I’m not just gonna drop them off in a horrible place and leave them there thank you for being an awesome listen and supporting tilt the channel that brings you all the podcasts you want to hear we’re listening to Talt find more podcasts on the lesbian talk show com yeah I mean I see when you use the humor those moments is almost like that’s a great sentence those moments are almost like you’re you’re you’re just easing off the pedal a little bit the narrative is still moving forward but it’s starting to almost feel dangerous as a reader and I can say this this is my experience so I guess I can’t speak for anyone else but for me it feels like we’re hurtling towards something really kind of uncomfortable and you ease off the gas and it’s almost just by easing off it’s like oh well this journey is still okay we can keep going and you lay it back on again later but you might ease off again later it also I think that happened for me that happened the most in Golden Rock with Dorothy with Dorothy yes and it’s so interesting because like looking at where that series started because Jericho really is it’s a straight up romance yeah and that’s and and Jericho is the first book I wrote and that’s exactly what I set out to do you know I had been reading hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of straight-up lesbian romances online you know in tandem with thousands of other women who were just discovering the genre and discovering the fact that these stories were even being written so you know I wanted to try to write one myself so you’re absolutely right that’s that’s what it is mm-hmm but I love that you you took a risk I mean frankly you took a major risk when you shifted genres with the series I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a series shift John Rizzo I’ve seen new characters brought in new settings but like to actually say okay this was a romance we’re not gonna do more romances here we’re going to make the fiction a little more general but we’re going to keep the same spirit like it was just so good and especially like getting to Goldenrod and kind of back to the with the political stuff like I’ll I mean I hated that you had to but like loved how you brought in the realities of immigrant families if you remember the immigrant family in particular actually appears in Jericho as well the one of the to me one of the one of the sort of better little subplots in Jericho is the story of how Mattie becomes involved with the the couple and the woman hasn’t has the baby remember and she does you know up you know that whole thing so that those people are kind of on the periphery of life in that community and then in Goldenrod I decided to you know bring them a little bring them forward a little bit more again well and it feels like unfortunately all the more relevant as there continues to be more and more and more of these raids by ice because you have thought there you have that with a Christmas tree farm that’s right that’s right and I wrote that book gosh how many three years ago I guess three years ago I believe that’s right three years ago three years ago and then to deal with the you know I I felt really strongly about the character of body who is on the Asperger’s spectrum but who actually is kind of the conscience of the book buddy more than anyone else I guess I would say has the point has my voice in the story even though he pretty much speaks in his own language even though he pretty much speaks in code he is really the one person who brings all of the other people together mm-hmm so speaking of current events we are also recording this on the day that the news broke about Jeffrey Epstein being found dead right prison cell which makes it feel like an awfully on-the-nose time to talk about Galileo but it would be great if we could talk a bit about I mean I think dust is probably one of your also more overtly political books because I mean everyone read is investigating someone who is running for office right but would you like to talk a little bit about what Galileo it was about sure Galileo takes place two years after the events in dust so Evan read the the main character is a dust buster a dust buster in political terms is an individual who does opposition or deep background research on candidates who are going to be vetted for national political office and she’s one of the best in the business and she gets hired by people from either political party sometimes to that opposition candidates sometimes to look deeply into the background of candidates they wish to put forward just to make sure they don’t come up with anything that will explode the candidacy later on so that’s who she is and that’s what she does and in this book Evan is hired by the DNC the Democratic National Committee to that nominee to the Supreme Court who has just been announced by the president the nominee is a darling of the ultra conservative right-wing faction of the Republican Party so he’s a strict constructionist he has a very long public career the party is convinced that it probably won’t find anything it doesn’t already know about this man and they have a very short timetable to look but they ask Evan to anyway the story takes place a few weeks before Christmas in December and the Senate is wanting to fast-track this man’s nomination so they can get him through committee and out for a final floor vote before the recess before the holiday recess so the only clue that evan has to go on that is different at all from anything that’s already publicly known about this man is this an oculist looking photograph that turns up in a whole box of documents and it’s a picture taken you know 10 years earlier of this judge in some unidentified setting with a bunch of other men and they’re all wearing formal dress code clothing and some may be teenage early teenage looking young men who were also wearing suits that are sort of awkward and badly fitted and in the photograph evan recognizes a man who is standing on the periphery and back in dust there is a reference to an early case she worked on where she vetted a candidate for the United States Senate in Pennsylvania and in her background research she discovered that this man had an unhappy passion for cruising underage boys on internet chat rooms and she gets the information she turns it over to the party and the person running his campaign promptly puts it in a drawer and doesn’t make it public because they’re more interested in having this guy you know win the Senate seat then losing their shot at tipping the balance of power in Congress so Evan recognizes this man in the photograph and cannot imagine what possible connection he has to this judge so that’s where the story takes off and the book involves her process of trying to pull this one thread and see where it leads and at the same time Evans best friend and lifetime best friend is a Roman Catholic priest father Tim they grew up together in southwest Philly Tim is now dealing with a crisis of faith and is thinking about leaving the priesthood on the heels of the grand jury findings that were released in Pennsylvania about 18 months ago two years ago maybe 18 months two years ago where they came forward with all of the accounts of sexual abuse of children in different diocese across Pennsylvania and they name names they listed the names of the priests the victims were coming forward so it pretty much exploded everything in the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania so Tim who was not personally abused however did know about these events taking place when he was growing up in the church and he kept silent and never said anything about it so you have the juxtaposition of his story with what Evan begins to uncover about this judge and other wealthy and powerful men who with him are all members of one of these ultra exclusive private clubs called Galileo and the secrets they share and you gradually begin to realize that the whole thing is bound up with the SEC which with the ritualized sexual abuse of these young boys so that’s kind of the plot in a nutshell so it’s a light fluffy read yeah I don’t know if you could have picked the release timing any better because I mean that’s the world we live election sure you know know that I did not plan that you know the timing for the release was really more a function of well you know that’s not actually true Salem the publisher Bywater does nothing by accident so it probably is the case that you know this this is well timed to coincide with thee with the elect and I tried I tried very hard it’s important to know too that with this book although the judge in this book happens to be a conservative Republican this is not a book that that makes judgments or deals with political ideologies or philosophies at all because in the first book dust the bad guy in that book was a Democrat so I try to be an equal-opportunity you know author when it comes to kind of spreading the joy around and I’ll also add I’ll also add that for anyone who did read dust Evan and Julia are now in a continuing committed relationship and Evans and they’re trying to work their way through the logistics of that Julia has moved from New York City to Philadelphia and Evans teenage daughter Stevie is now starting to look at colleges and Stevie begins to come to terms with her own sexual identity in the book so there are all these other themes that are woven in and around this other story and by the end of the book all of the stories of these different characters coalesce and come together in a really surprising way and the thing that actually ends up being the linchpin of the whole mystery comes from a place that you absolutely would never predict well I’m looking forward to it by the time this episode goes up I will have read it I haven’t read it yet and I’m very excited well thanks yeah so is there anything else that you would want to say or share you know about about this about writing from a political perspective or well you know you know when you said early on when we were talking about this topic and you would mention that you know one way or another writing writing books about lesbians is political by definition and and I do agree with that and I also believe that maybe particularly in the world we live in now where we are living in some kind of binary vacuum where our understanding of even what it means to be human is blowing up all around us and the sort of culture of narcissism that not only you know pervades our political discourse but just our culture at large like you can’t even you can’t even go on the internet and read your email or look at Facebook or anything without being barged by all of this commercialization and advertising that’s specifically targeted to you and things that are known and understood about you and your likes and your dislikes and you know the places you go and what you shop and buy and all of that and how we’re all kind of wandering around in this wilderness without a center you know without without a shared moral compass which we just don’t have anymore we don’t have a shared moral Center at all so I feel that as we write and tell our stories it’s important for us I mean I guess you know like Toni Morrison who just passed away she talked about how she felt I’ll say this badly but that her job and her responsibilities as a writer was to sit down and witness the lives of the people around her the people who are regarded as other or as outcasts or as the ones who are Deneb who are identified as as the group that doesn’t belong you know and whether that’s whether that’s women or minorities or immigrants or gay people you know those of us who are other whose stories are rejected and you know the people who were told that their lives and their experiences don’t matter I don’t have value or lack legitimacy you know that we who are storytellers have a responsibility to witness to witness those lives and those experiences in ways that are broader than who we go to bed with and who we have sex with and the romances that we have you know and I think for me particularly as I approach you know legitimately probably the last chunk of my life it’s more important than ever for me to write about themes that touch on the real lives we live and not just the fantasies we like to have and learn about or share you know that that you know books that deal with love and romance and sex are important and have a place but we also have a responsibility to write about other things that inform our life experiences and who we are that’s what I’m trying to do anyway and you know the last thing that I think like you know Toni Morrison’s probably challenge to all of us was to as she said write less and say more right lessons same order oh you know what and there is one other thing I that I did I’d really like to share with you about the process of doing Galileo that was really different for me and and different from my other books I took a huge risk a huge personal risk on this book and I actually hired I’m reluctant to say professional because I don’t want to suggest that that other editors in our world are not professional because they are but I hired a professional writing coach an editor to work with me on this book after I’d finished it and to do it to read it and and do what she called a developmental edit she’d never read any of my other books she knew me but didn’t know anything about me or what my books were typically like and I got a lot of incredible feedback from her and I learned a lot of things and there were there were a couple things in particular that she noted and one of them was really brought me up by the short hairs there is a very pivotal scene at the end of Galileo where one of the main characters discovers a folder full of graphic photographs that show sexual situations taking place between these men and some of these young boys and I did not describe the pictures I did through I felt you know through you know just through the context and through the character’s reaction I felt that it was clear about what the content of the images was so I did not write that and the other editor I was working with very very carefully asked me about that and she knew enough about me to understand that you know that I had been a victim of sexual violence cuz I’m very open I talked about that and she asked me if my what she understood is my reluctance to write about that to describe that derived from my personal experience you know was it just too hard for you to do that and I was kind of stunned by that question you know and I said no you know that isn’t why I didn’t write it you know I don’t have any difficulty talking about what happened to me or being vocal about it what I had to come to terms with was the fact that for many years you know attending conferences and sitting in on panels and listening to readers and listening to other writers in our world who say very directly I don’t want to write up about that I don’t want to read that I don’t want to know about that I don’t what I don’t want those things to exist in our literature you know so I you know I reject that I choose not to write about that so I knew whether whether I was conscious of it or not when I got to that point in the story that if I did describe the photographs if I did kind of go there that I would run the risk of antagonizing or alienating a lot of my readers and I chose not to do it and that was very difficult for me to have to own up to that I made what what it’s impossible to view is anything other than like a pragmatic or a kind of market driven decision not to do something hard because I didn’t want to offend anybody so I think early on when when you and I first started talking I told you that I that the final version of the book hasn’t has an extra scene that I added a scene near the end that’s the scene that I added so I did write it I did write it and I did put it in there because I realized that you know I can’t I can’t do this craft I can’t be honest and I can’t witness to my life and to the lives of other people if I make decisions that are based on on economics and selling more copies of the book so that’s a kind of a personal revelation for me mm-hmm well I think that’s all for this episode how can people find you online if they would like to connect with you oh you know I do make furtive elusive occasional sporadic appearances on Facebook I have a website and McMahon comm which actually is under construction and if we can ever get the damn thing launched it’s to be great and it’s gonna be a good place to connect with me apart from that you know Facebook Twitter they can always email me you know and you can also find out about me and about my books at Bywater books com thank you so much for joining me today thank you for asking Tara so I’m Tara and you’ve been listening to loves to books you can email me at Tara at the lesbian with your questions or comments if you’re an author is interested in joining me on the show to talk about the less fake you love or trends that have you interested please let me know if you’ve enjoyed this episode please check out the show notes when you’ll find a patreon link for the lesbian talk show or visit 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